Hemi-powered Dodge Challenger is the 4×4 of Our Dreams

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Daystar Products' 2012 Dodge Challenger Cactus Runner.

Let’s call this one the ‘Off-Road Runner.’ 

At this point, we all know how capable the Dodge Challenger is. From the V6-powered all-wheel drive GT to the already legendary Demon, Dodge’s muscle car can do it all. Well, at least on the pavement. Until this year’s SEMA, if you’re looking to go off-road in a Mopar, you’d be better off sticking to Jeep.

But Daystar Products has changed the game. For this year’s show, they took a 2012 Dodge Challenger and transformed it into a 4×4 desert runner that doesn’t need to slow down once the road ends.

Daystar Products' 2012 Dodge Challenger Cactus Runner.

The current AWD Challenger is only available from a V6 from Dodge. That isn’t the case here. This ’12 is rocking a supercharged 392 Hemi. That’s mated to a transfer case with 4-wheel low, 4-wheel high, and 2-wheel high settings. If you look closely at the fenders, you’ll see that this Challenger is Jeep Trail Rated. We’re sure that isn’t Mopar official, but we certainly believe it.

On top of the big Hemi and transfer case, this Challenger has been lifted, outfitted with polyurethane bushings. It has massive Raceline Beadlock wheels with 35-inch BF Goodrich KM3 tires. Tom Wood’s driveshafts send all that power to both axles, and up front, Baja Designs LP9 LED lights and hood pins make the big coupe look like it’s ready for desert duty.

Put it all together and you’ve got the Cactus Runner, or Carnegiea Gigantea Zoomitus in a nod to the ’60s-era Road Runner’s Looney Toons roots. And speaking of the golden era of muscle cars, this Challenger’s yellow paint and wild purple “HEMI” graphics on the rear quarters look straight out of the Space Age.

There’s no word on how much this desert monster cost to build, but with the quality of the work, we’re thinking it wasn’t cheap. Nonetheless, we think the time is right for more builds like these.

Photos for Dodge Forum by Derin Richardson 

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James Derek Sapienza has worked as a writer and editor in the world of automotive journalism since 2015.

He has a BS in History at SUNY Brockport, with a focus on American popular culture. A fan of the classics with a special interest in German cars, he is a proud owner of a 1991 W124 Mercedes. He is a frequent contributor to Mustang Forums, MBWorld, 5Series, Rennlist, and more.

James can be reached at [email protected]

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